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Патент USA US3083258

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March 26, 1963
F. A. SCHUMACHER
THERMOELECTRIC MODULE
3,083,248
Filed July 28, 1961
INVENTOR/L? \
FRANK A. SCHUMAIQHER
BY
His ATTORNEY
3,083,248
Patented Mar. 26, 1963
2
3,083,248
TEERMOELEQTRIC MGDULE
Frank A. Schumaeher, Louisville, Ky., assignor to Gen
eral Electric Company, a corporation of New York
vide the required heat insulation between the heat ab
sorbing and heat dissipating surfaces of the module, the
remaining space between these surfaces is ?lled with a
foamed resin insulating material.
For a better understanding of the invention reference
may be had to the accompanying drawing in which:
FlG. 1 is a view illustrating one step in the assembly of
the module of the present invention;
The present invention relates to thermoelectric heating
FIG. 2 is a transverse view of the partly ?nished module
or cooling devices and is particularly concerned with an
improved thermoelectric module for use in such devices. 10 illustrating the manner in which the elements are encap
sulated in a rigid resinous material;
Thermoelectric devices employed for heating or cool
FIG. 3 is a longitudinal sectional view of a portion of
ing frequently comprise a number of individual thermo
a module in its ?nished form; and
electric modules or units each comprising a plurality of
FIG. 4.is a transverse sectional view ofthe ?nished
pairs of dissimilar thermoelectric elements. The indi
vidual units or modules are assembled and electrically 15 module shown in FIG. 3.
The structure and advantages of the thermoelectric
interconnected as required to provide the desired heating
module of the present invention will probably best be
or cooling power for the device. To prevent breakage
understood from a consideration of the various steps em
of the joints between the individual thermoelectric ele
ployed in the manufacture of the module. A plurality of
ments and the junction forming members soldered there
to, it is desirable to design each of the individual modules 20 P-type elements 1 and N-type thermoelectric elements 2
are alternately and series connected by means of junc
as rigid strong sub-assemblies so that the relatively fragile
Filed July 28, 1961, Ser. No. 127,526
2 Claims. (Cl. 136-4)
elements and the joints are protected from excess me
chanical stresses both during manufacture and use of the
tions 3 and 4 so that when a direct current is passed
through the assembly in one direction there will be formed
for example a set of hot junctions represented by the
modules.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a new 25 junction forming members 3 and a set of cold junction
forming members represented for example by the junction
and improved thermoelectric module particularly of a
forming member 4. In this assembly, as shown in FIG. 1,
novel design adapted to protect the thermoelectric ele
the P- and N-type elements are arranged in substantially
ments and their joints from breakage during normal han
a straight line and in parallel relationship with one an
dling of the modules.
Further objects and advantages of the invention will 30 other. Each of the junction forming members 3 and 4
include a base portion 5 which is soldered directly to ad
be apparent from the following description thereof and
jacent P- and N-type elements and ‘a heat conducting
the features of novelty which characterize the invention
portion 6 preferably ‘terminating in a relatively large heat
will be pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed
absorbing or heat dissipating end section 7 which, as is
to and forming part of this speci?cation.
In carrying out the objects of the present invention, 35 shown in FIG. 3 of the drawing, is in or closely adjacent
a surface of the thermoelectric module.
there is provided a thermoelectric module comprising
spaced, substantially parallel heat absorbing and heat
dissipating surfaces and a plurality of dissimilar thermo
electric elements, that is P-type and N-type elements,
disposed in the space between the surfaces and extending
The portion of the assembly including the thermoelec
tric elements 1 and 2 and the opposed surfaces of the
base portion 5 joined to opposite ends of these elements
as shown in FIG. 1 is thereafter embedded or encap
sulated in a resinous material such as an epoxy resin
substantially perpendicular to the surfaces. In each
or compound which cures or hardens to form a rigid
module, the P- and N-type elements are arranged alter
resinous mass which completely encloses the thermo
nately and in a substantially straight line, that is, in the
electric elements 1 and 2 and rigidly secures the two sets
same plane. Junction forming members soldered to the
ends of the P- and N-type elements are provided for con 45 of junction members 3 and 4 together. Since a solid
resinous material has relatively poor heat insulating prop
necting the dissimilar elements alternately and in series
erties, the extent of this body 9 of encapsulating material
so that when a direct current is passed through the series
is preferably limited, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, to the
connected elements there is formed a set of hot junctions
space between the bases 5 of the junction members 3 and 4
and a set of cold junctions. In order ‘to provide su?i
cient spacing between the heat absorbing and heat dissi 50 with the sides of the body 9 being substantially coextensive
with the longitudinal edges of the base portions 5.
pating surfaces of the module, each of the junction form
In order to assure adequate anchoring of the encap
ing members includes a base portion which is directly
sulating material to the base portions 5 during the cure
soldered to the thermoelectric elements and a heat con
of the resinous material, each of the base portions 5 are
ducting portion extending to or through one of the sur
preferably provided with a recess 10 extending longitudi
faces. For the purpose of strengthening the soldered
nally of the junction members. The recesses are of a
joints between the elements and the junctions forming
size su?’icient to receive the ends of the thermoelectric
members and also to protect the elements themselves
elements 1 and 2. The side walls ll preferably slope in
from breakage, the joined elements are encapsulated in
wardly or converge from the bottom to the top of the
a body of solid resinous material extending the entire
lengths of the elements and anchored to the opposed base 60 recess or in other Words the recesses are wider at the
bottom than at the top so that the ?uid encapsulating ma
portions of the junction forming members in such a man
terial will ?ow into the recesses Ill and upon solidifying
ner that this body of resinous material rigidly secures the
will be anchored by the converging walls 11 to the re
space members to one another to thereby strengthen and
spective junction members 3 and 4. It will be under
protect the soldered joints and the thermoelectric ele
ments from mechanical stresses. As the solid resinous 65 stood, of course, that any suitable form or mold can be
employed for limiting the encapsulating material to the
material has relatively poor insulating qualities as com
pared to other known insulating materials, this body of
resin is employed only in the space between the opposed
base members or in other words is in the form of an
elongated relatively narrow rectangular shape having a
width approximately that of the base members. To pro
above-described portions of the device.
After hardening of the encapsulating material forming
the body 9, the resultant assembly as illustrated in FIG.
2 of the drawing is again placed in a suitable mold and
is completely embedded in a mass of resinous foam in
3,083,248
3
sulation obtained by expanding in place a foamable resin
mixture such as a foamable polyurethane resin.
The
?nal module may take any of a variety of shapes but will '
essentially include a heat dissipating surface 14 including
or coextensive with the upper surface of the portions 7
4
dicular to said surfaces, said P~type and N-type elements
being arranged alternately and in a substantially straight
line, a plurality of junction forming members alternately
and series connecting said P-type and N-type elements to
form a set of hot junctions and a set of cold junctions,
of the junction members 3 and a cooling surface 15 in
each of said members including a base portion connected
cluding or coetxensive with the portions 7 of the junction
to a P-type and an N-type element and a heat conducting
forming members 4. In the illustrated embodiment of
portion terminating at one surface of said module, each
the invention the module is of rectangular cross section
of said base portions having a recess therein for receiv
which is a convenient shape for assembly of a plurality
ing the ends of the elements connected thereto, said re
of the modules to form a thermoelectric cooling device.
cess being larger than the ends of said elements, a layer
In the ?nal module, it will be noted with reference to
of solder securing the end of each of said elements to
FIGS. 3 and 4 of the drawing that the heat dissipating and
said members Within said recesses, a body of solid res
heat absorbing surfaces 14 and 15 are in spaced relation
inous material encapsulating all of said elements and rig
ship and that all of the space between these surfaces other 15 idly joining all of said junction forming members to
than that taken up by the thermoelectric elements, the
gether, said body of resinous material extending into said
junction forming members and the encapsulating body 9
recesses and between the base portions of said junction
is ?lled with a thermal insulating resin foam. 7 The foam
members and being substantially coextensive with the
itself does not materially strengthen the module and in
side edges thereof, the remaining space between said sur
fact may tend to stress the soldered joints during forma
faces being ?lled with a foamed resin insulating material.
tion of the foamed insulation by expansion of a foam
2. A thermoelectric module comprising spaced parallel
able resin mixture. The desired strength and rigidity of
heat absorbing and heat dissipating surfaces, a plurality
the module is primarily obtained from the body 9'of the
of P-type and N-type elements disposed in the space be—
encapsulating material which completely surrounds and
tween said surfaces and extending substantially perpen
encloses the individual thermoelectric elements and which
dicular to said surfaces, said P-type and N-type elements
bridges and is securely anchored to the opposed base
being arranged alternately and in a substantially straight
portions 5 of the junction members 3 and 4. By pro
line, a plurality of T-shaped junction forming members al
viding means for effectively anchoring the body 9 of
ternately and series connecting said P-type and N-type ele
resinous material to all of the junction forming members
ments to form a set of hot junctions and a set of cold
3 and 4 comprising the module, a module of superior 30 junctions, each of'said members including a base portion
mechanical strength and resistance to breakage is ob
connected to a P-type and an N-type element ‘and a heat
tained. Stresses resulting during the foaming of the res
conducting portion terminating at one surface of said
inous mass 16 or from handling of the modules during
module, each of said base portions having a recess there
assembly thereof into a thermoelectric device are ‘pre
in for receiving the ends of the elements connected
vented from affecting both the soldered connections be— 35 thereto, said recess being larger than the ends of said
tween the elements and the junction forming members
elements and having converging side Walls, a layer of
and the elements themselves. It will be understood, of
solder securing the end of each of said elements to said
course, that depending upon the intended application of
members within said recesses, a body of solid resinous
the module the surfaces 14 and 15 may be provided with
a thin ?lm of resinous insulating material in the event 40 material encapsulating all of said elements and rigidly
that the modules are to be used in contact with a me~
joining all said junction forming members together, said
body of resinous material extending into said recesses and
tallic or other electrically conducting surface.
between the base portions of said junction members and
While there has been shown and described a particular
being substantially coextensive therewith, the remaining
embodiment of the present invention, it will be obvious
to those skilled in the art that various changes and modi 45 space between said surfaces being ?lled with a foamed
resin insulating material.
?cations may be made therein without departing from the
invention and it is therefore intended by the appended
claims to cover all such changes and modi?cations as
References Cited in the ?le of this patent
fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.
UNITED STATES PATENTS
What I claim as new and desire to secure by Letters 50
1,848,655
Petrik _______________ __ Mar. 8, 1932
Patent of the United States is:
1. A thermoelectric module comprising spaced parallel
heat absorbing and heat dissipating surfaces, a plurality
of P-type and N~type elements disposed in the space be
tween said surfaces and extending substantially perpen 55
2,626,970
2,947,150
2,949,497
2,997,514
Hunrath _____________ __ Ian. 27,
Roeder ______________ __ Aug. 2,
Jarvis et a1. _'_ ________ __ Aug. 16,
Roeder _____________ __ Aug. 22,
1953
1960
1960
1961
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